How was the accident at the race in Le Mans, the most terrible tragedy in the world of MotorsportBy Pictolic https://pictolic.com/article/how-was-the-accident-at-the-race-in-le-mans-the-most-terrible-tragedy-in-the-world-of-motorsport.html
This accident that happened June 11, 1955 at the 24-hour race in Le Mans was neither before, nor, fortunately, after. The list of victims literally enters into a stupor: 84 dead and 120 wounded! No wonder almost all the Newspapers of the world the next day came out with a chilling headlines and gruesome photos.
Start of Le Mans 1955. Tragedy happens in two hours...
— What happened?
— A tragic coincidence. Ended in only the second hour of the daily race. The weather that day was good. With the visibility or slippery floors was not a problem. However, on direct start-finish in front of the main grandstand faced a two car: the most powerful Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR factory pilot "Silver arrows" of the Frenchman Pierre levec and humble Austin-Healey 100 S is almost an unknown British owner of lance Macklin.
Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR of Pierre levec on the road shortly before the fatal incident.
Austin-Healey 100S of lance Macklin bypasses the Porsche 550 Spyder.
Real name Pierre levec Pierre eugène Alfred Bullen. Leveque alias he took in honor of his uncle, who was also a racer and has performed under this assumed name.
Lance Macklin was the son of wealthy British automobile businessman Noel Macklin, founder of such known companies like Invicta and Railton.
But as the clash of only two cars on the road could lead to so many victims?
A grimace of fortune, or not say. The fact is, walking at a much higher speed 300 SLR jumped on the back of "Austin-Healey". "Mercedes" like on the trampoline lifted into the air and threw it to the side-yard, filled to overflowing with fans. On the way the car crashed into the protective barrier began to fall apart in the air, and part of it turned into a deadly buckshot...
— It's awful. But who is to blame for what happened?
— The amazing thing is that essentially nothing.
But a collision cannot occur by itself. Must be of the two drivers, someone made a mistake. It was probably less experienced McLean?
The desperate struggle of the factory pilots Jaguar (#6 Hawthorne) and Mercedes-Benz (#19 Fangio), for the time was the decoration of the race.
— Let's deal. Before the collision, the British did lose control of his Austin-Healey, but it happened not through his fault. The fact that in just a few seconds before the crash McLean overtook one of the favorites LEM Mans-1955 Michael Hawthorne, whose Jaguar D-Type at the time was leading the race. Almost immediately after that, Mike suddenly saw that the mechanics of the boxes indicate that they need to call in for a pit stop to refuel. In order not to slip through the entrance to the pit lane, Hawthorne slowed down and shifted to the right, thereby crossing of the trajectory with Аustin-Healeу he literally just passed.
— Apparently, Maclean, such a maneuver was a surprise...
— Complete and absolute. The more that is equipped with outlandish at the time disc brakes Jaguar D-Type of hawthorn slowed much more effective and faster than all other cars. Lance, trying to avoid collision, braked hard, but still rapidly approaching the "Jaguar". What happened immediately after that, hard to say. Whether McLean instinctively turned the wheel to the side, whether right wheels "Austin-Healey", appeared on the grass, have caused the imbalance in braking. Anyway, the car McLean sharply pulled to the left right under the wheels at full speed rushing "Mercedes" levec...
The scheme of the ill-fated crash. No. 6 — Hawthorne, No. 19 — Fangio, No. 20 — L'evêque, No. 26 — McLean
— Levec have not had time to brake?
Pierre ran one of the most powerful and fastest racing cars of the era. The body of magnesium (!) alloy provided the Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR enviable rigidity and lightness (curb vehicle weight does not exceed 900 kg), and 3-liter row "eight" with a mechanical fuel injection, first tested in aviation engines Daimler Benz with combat fighters Messerschmitt BF109, developed 314 BHP Thanks to all this on the straight 300 SLR reached a maximum speed of 300 km/h. it is Clear that to stop such a projectile is very, very difficult.
For all its power, the brakes were not the strongest of the 300 SLR. To improve the effectiveness of slowing down the German machine, even equipped with aerodynamic brake in the rear, which helped to slow down at the end of the direct
However, Leveque tried to brake and, moreover, his noble and brave actions saved the life of at least one person — Juan-Manuel Fangio.
— What exactly did he do?
— Here is how the events of Le Mans 1955, he recalled the five-time world champion.
— Which driver died in a crash?
Only lévêque, who had to warn a teammate of danger. McLean got off lightly.
On such a trajectory the car levec moved after the contact with the Austin-Healey. Straight towards the stands.
Broken Austin-Healey Macklin on the side of the road
— The race must immediately stop?
— The fact of the matter is that there. And perhaps ironically, it was the right decision. Otherwise leave the track, spectators flooded all the roads, blocking access for ambulances. And medical assistance in the day was needed for many, many...
— Did something else happen?
— Happened. Mischief managed even French rescuers, who began to extinguish the Smoking skeleton of the Mercedes levec... water. Those who are familiar with chemistry don't explain, that gives H2O in connection with the burning magnesium... the Car exploded and the list of victims of Le Mans became even sadder.
All that remains of the racing Mercedes-Benz at number 20
But as the pilots were able to continue the race, when so many people died?
— Actually, most of the riders didn't even understand the severity of the incident. Because from the highway the accident didn't look particularly scary. Smoke, broken cars at the curb, that's all... And only once on that ill-fated podium it was possible to think that there exploded a fragmentation bomb...
— What happened next?
The evening of the same day at an emergency meeting of the Board of Directors of Daimler-Benz — not management of the racing team, and top generals of the company! — it was decided to withdraw from the race, the two remaining factory crew. And at that point in the race was leading it "Mercedes" the crew — Juan Manuel Fangio/ Stirling moss. The closest of "jaguars" behind already on two circles.
— The British did the same?
— No, although racing Manager of the Mercedes-Benz Rudolf Uhlenhaut invited its counterpart from the Jaguar lofty England to follow their example. In the end, the winner of the most tragic Le Mans race in history was Mike Hawthorne, with the maneuver which began the chain of horrific coincidences.
Jaguar D-Type Michael Hawthorne is coming to victory
The sad faces of the winners. Especially to rejoice there is nothing...
— Champagne on the podium was that?
— There, but no joy. Moreover, it was not without a hard-hitting showdown. So McLean immediately after the accident, blamed Hawthorne: "it's because of his idiotic maneuver all happened! He is a nerd!". But Mike is in debt does not remain, saying that it did the right thing and moreover warned Maclean of intent to turn in the boxes, and if so, when this happened — the fault of the pilot of the Austin-Healey... Verbal sparring of the two Englishmen turned into a legal battle, which, by the way, and could not be resolved. After four years of serial "Jaguar" Hawthorne, rushing at 200 km/h after the driven gas. The most talented British rider generation was only 29...
— Well, how the tragedy at Le Mans reacted in the world?
— Of course, everyone was shocked. Shocked and frightened. In the summer of 1955 Grand Prix across Europe were cancelled batches. But, say, in Switzerland decided to ban all Motorsport competitions. By the way, this prohibition is still in effect! But most importantly, after a bloody weekend in Le Mans all at last pay attention to the safety of racing, or rather its absence. Just remember that rushing for 300 km/h cars weren't even equipped with belts. It is unlikely they would have saved the life of Levico, but the fact about something Yes speaks. The track at Le Mans like many other racing tracks around the world, waiting for the active upgrade in terms of safety. Since then, of course, Motorsport in General has become less hazardous. It is a pity that this first had to sacrifice 84 innocent lives...
The most unfortunate Austin-Healey 100S was sold at auction for more than a million bucks. Strange, who could use such a notorious instance?